In case you missed it earlier this week, AI Chairman Francis Fukuyama has built a drone and has documented the process on his blog. Here’s his take on why he did it:
It is extremely easy to build a drone now that can do not just surveillance but can carry rather large payloads . . . I don’t have to spell out the implications of this. I want to have my drone before the government makes them illegal. The US has been fighting such low-tech enemies lately that we haven’t thought through the nature of a world in which lots of people have sophisticated drones, not just other countries but private individuals.
Frank is right. We haven’t thought through the nature of such a world. But there’s certainly an argument for drones that we hope Western governments consider before banning them outright. They are an invaluable aid to citizen journalists and can serve to increase accountability in both corporations and governments. As Gizmodo reported recently, a Texas man discovered via drone surveillance a stream of blood flowing from a local meat processing plant and into a river, leading to an investigation. And according to a Radio Free Europe profile, an Azerbaijani engineer is developing a drone designed for filmmakers and journalists, which bloggers have already used to document protests in Poland:[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9vOor1xmVDs’]Privacy concerns remain to be addressed, and some kind of regulation is probably inevitable. But we hope that Western governments committed to their citizens’ freedom don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater on this particular innovation.